Home Remedies For Cold and Cough

Eric Bakker N.D.April 30, 2022

We have all had a cold, cough, sore throat or the flu on occasion and know how it feels. You ache, have stuffiness, a scratchy throat, you cough and may well have various other insufferable nasty cold or flu symptoms. This article will focus on some good old home remedies along with a good dose of common sense.

Eric Bakker Naturopath » Recipes » Home Remedies For Cold and Cough

Old-Fashioned Remedies Often Work the Best

We have all had a cold, cough, sore throat or the flu on occasion and know how it feels. You ache, have stuffiness, a scratchy throat, you cough and may well have various other insufferable nasty cold or flu symptoms. This article will focus on some good old home remedies along with a good dose of common sense.

I find it most interesting that there has never been a medicine found yet to cure the common cold. We can land a man on the moon, we have developed the atom bomb and can fly amazingly large aircraft around the world at great speed with an incredible safety record – yet we can’t seem to “cure” people from colds or influenza. All we can do is create drugs to relieve the symptoms like cough, stuffiness and aches and pains.

Then why not consider natural remedies?
Since no one really has time today to be sick, the pharmaceutical manufacturers promise us instant relief of our suffering. Scores of over-the-counter cold remedies compete for a slice of the multi-million dollar cold remedy industry, but no matter what you take, the symptoms of a cold won’t just vanish immediately after you take a drug.

The thing with colds is that they are a collection of any one of 200 or more different viruses. And to kill a cold, you will need to accurately determine any one of the several hundred specific viruses implicated that may cause your particular cold. As you can well imagine, this is just about impossible, and it can be extremely difficult to find a specific substance to universally destroy all cold viruses that doesn’t cause major side-effects. So far, no one has managed to succeed to find that magic silver bullet to cure colds.

People have come to expect instant relief from cold symptoms, yet taking over the counter cold remedies may actually prolong a person’s misery, in my opinion. I have found that the patients I see who are the sickest, are the ones who have a reliance on pharmacy (drug store) preparations every three to four hours. So, what do I recommend that an achy, snuffly, sneezy and generally miserable person should do for the common cold? My best advice follows:

Vitamin C – The Natural Antihistamine

Beef up your intake. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, and it can help counter the congestion, runny nose and watery eyes triggered by substances known as histamines induced by cold viruses. The highest concentration of Vitamin C in your body is in your adrenal glands, and this makes sense because the adrenals help you recover from stressful events.

The hormone called cortisol requires plenty of Vitamin C for its production, and cortisol is critical in order to boost your immune system to the max. Poor cortisol levels, which occur in adrenal fatigue, will cause a decrease in immune resistance and then you can fall prey much more easily to the common cold. Try one teaspoon of Vitamin C powder each day. Your immune system will really “beef” up. If you want to know a lot more about your immune system, check out our informative article on immunity.

Many people take a mere 500mg daily of Vitamin C – waste of time. Try 2000 – 3000 daily and stand back, it will pleasantly surprise you at how resilient your immune system has become. Why take antihistamines that make you drowsy, when Vitamin C does so much more?

Zinc Lozenges

Zinc is a very important co-factor for dozens of your body’s metabolic processes, and especially when it comes to your immune system. Zinc is very important for the health of the body’s mucosal surfaces, particularly the mouth, and recurring mouth ulcers may well result from poor zinc levels. Can’t smell? – take zinc.

Drink Water – Lots

Drinking lots of water is especially important if you have a cold or the flu. Dehydration is very real, and please avoid drinks high in sugar, alcohol and caffeine. I recommend at least eight glasses of water if you have a cold which will hydrate your body, because your body will lose plenty of fluid in its virus-fighting metabolic process.

Herbal Teas

I recommend herbal teas (without caffeine) as a substitute instead of just drinking eight glasses of water, you will get a medicinal effect as well as become adequately hydrated. Different herbal remedies have a positive effect on different symptoms of a cold or the flu, and some herbal tea combinations can even treat several symptoms at the same time.

We can improve the flavour of herbal teas with the addition of a little Manuka honey and please – never use sugar!

There are a few herbal companies who have patented some excellent herbal mixtures for colds over the years. They all are effective and taste great. If you want to treat a specific symptom, here are a few specific herbal ingredients:

Relieving congestion – Ginger, thyme, or liquorice tea

Soothing to the throat – Slippery elm, comfrey, or fenugreek tea

Relieving nausea – Ground fennel, ginger.

Inducing perspiration – Linden tea

Echinacea tea – A great antibiotic as well as immune system booster and helps you get over colds and flu faster or great for building the immune system to ward of colds and flu.There are many good Echinacea teas in health food stores and much easier to make, but if you have your own Echinacea plants, use them, because fresh is always better.

Eric’s Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice is an excellent home remedy for viral or bacterial infections of the ear, nose, throat, and chest. I have recommended this remedy for many years, and the feedback has always been excellent. This is good if you feel you are “coming down” with the influenza virus or a cold. It is a warming and nourishing drink which has a good stimulatory effect on the immune system. It delivers good levels of Vitamin C in particular. I recommend two glasses daily, and be sure to drink it rather warm, the same temperature you like to sip a cup of coffee or tea.

Jungle Juice Ingredients

  • 300 ml or about 10 oz. of water (very warm).
  • Juice of whole or half a lemon.
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin C powder.
  • A few thin slices of fresh ginger.
  • A small clove of garlic finely chopped.
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional).
  • Half a teaspoon of Manuka honey.


Boil the water first. Place all the ingredients in a large mug or cup, then slowly add the hot water as you stir well. Cover, and leave it sit for 5 minutes. Sip when hot, and when you have finished, be sure to eat the solids. I like to recommend this drink in particular when a patient has a fever, or feels hot and cold when they have a chesty cough. This drink is excellent to use with an essential oil like eucalyptus. Use the oil liberally on the chest and back.

Composition Powder

I can remember Composition Powder well when I was a herbal medicine student in the 90s. The teacher was a most experienced herbalist, having learned the craft from her grandfather. In her large old tin shed I experienced the delights of a cup of hot water in which they had stirred a teaspoon of Composition Powder. It was midwinter, and this brew was AMAZING. It warmed me to the core, and the aroma was heavenly.

Composition Powder is a spicy, warming herbal tea which helps to clear out the congested sinus and respiratory systems and was made famous by Jethro Kloss in his book Back To Eden. Later, it became one of Dr. John Christopher’s favourite formulations as well. Dr. Christopher was one of America’s most famous herbalists. You may want to skip sites like “RationalWiki” that discredit pioneers like Jethro Kloss, calling him an American Herbalist Quack.

I recall being called a quack myself in the 80s, due to my interest in the microbiome and probiotics at the time. Today everybody takes probiotics, even medical doctors that once thought “all bacteria make you sick”. Websites that result  in name-calling are a bit “on the nose” if you get my drift, and are best left alone, along with a ton of other crap websites out there calling themselves “the truth-seekers”.

Composition Powder is specific to upper respiratory tract complaints of many kinds and I have found it to be one of the best first line defence for mucous producing colds and flu. It’s difficult to obtain, and you may need to hunt around for it.

Recommended dosage is 2-3 cups of the tea daily when you have a cold or particularly influenza. Steep 1 teaspoon of powder to a cup of water for 15 minutes. Do not strain. Use whenever you suffer from a cold or congestion especially.

Composition Powder was an old standby and usually every home had a supply many years ago, as it was considered they could use a medicine of much value in all complaints and even for children. It is good for relaxation, bowel complaints such as diarrhoea, pain in the stomach and bowels, colds, flu, etc.

Composition Powder can help most times where your circulation is weak and obstructed, and is good generally when an older person requires a stimulating drink and where the lumbar (lower back) region is painful.

To make composition powder, combine:

  • 4 parts bayberry root bark powder
  • 3 parts ginger powder
  • 3 parts white poplar bark (inner bark) powder
  • 3 parts pine bark (inner bark) powder
  • 2 parts cloves powder
  • 1 part cayenne powder

Preparation: Mix the powders and pass through a fine sieve at lease twice. Use 1 teaspoonful of the mixed powder in 1 cup of boiling-hot water. Sweeten if desired; cover and allow to stand a few minutes.

Dosage: I recommend you stir the mixture and drinking the powder remaining in the cup’s bottom or glass for its stimulating benefits. Some people drink a cup of this brew as a culinary tea to help prevent disease.

There are so many variations of this old-time remedy, but mostly using the same herbs but in varying amounts. By taking a dose ongoing to bed, and putting a hot water bottle on your feet, it is possible to actually cure a bad cold, and will throw off many disease in its first stages, if repeated two or three times a day.

Old Bush Remedy For Colds and Influenza

Now here’s an old remedy I got from a man in his seventies who swore by this “bush remedy” for cough and colds. He said that one of the best things you can do if a cold takes effect on your body is to eat raw onions like you would an apple. Plain brown onion is the best he said, but I can’t bring myself to eating an onion like I would an apple, but this fellow did and he said that his overall health has improved remarkably since doing so.

The recipe he gave me is not unlike a similar recipe for an immune tea which I have seen before, feel free to adapt to suit.

Into a blender put: (I have my trusty Vita Mix that works extremely well)

  • 2 medium or 1 large unpeeled orange, cut in quarters to blend faster.
  • 1 unpeeled lemon, cut up in pieces.
  • 5 cloves of peeled garlic.
  • One or two large tablespoons honey. (use Manuka)
  • 1 avocado (no seed, no skin)
  • Add small amount of water to help with blending
  • Add a tablespoon of Vitamin C (I use Vitamin C powder, quantity to suit your taste)


Blend on high until liquefied. May be heated as a tea or add 1 cup of ice to blender to make a shake. Drink 250 mls (about one cup) every two to three hours, until cold symptoms subside. If you have a sore scratchy throat, then hot is best.  I like this drink, and find it very agreeable. You can use one small lime and one small lemon for something different.

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